In today’s market, many real-estate professionals suggest the three most important things for home sellers, especially first-time sellers, are condition, condition, condition.
“Everyone has heard that selling a home is about ‘location, location, location,’” said Jan Jedlinsky, an agent with Metro II Realty who was just named Columbus Realtor of the Year by the Columbus Board of Realtors.
Location, price and condition all play a role in getting a house sold for top dollar in a reasonable amount of time, Jedlinsky said.
There’s not much a seller can do about a home’s location, though, unless it has wheels. And the market will quickly show if a seller is asking too much for the house.
“These days, buyers already kind of know what price a house should be,” Jedlinsky said. “They kind of know what they can get for their money.”
But a home’s condition, and the impression it gives to would-be buyers, can give a seller of a “starter home” a leg up on the house for sale down the street.
One factor that has propelled condition, staging and curb appeal to the forefront for sellers (and buyers) is HGTV, the popular cable-TV channel that specializes in shows about home improvement, decorating, remodeling and home buying.
“Selling a house has changed a lot in the last seven to 10 years, and a lot of that is due to HGTV,” said Lori Murphy, owner of Element 1 Home Staging in Dublin.
Murphy’s company, like other staging companies, specializes in making homes look attractive to would-be buyers.
“It’s an emotional purchase,” she said. “You want it to feel warm and homey.”
Murphy works mostly with homes in which the seller has already moved out.
“When you walk into a home with no furniture, people think it looks cold and empty,” she said. “I had an intern who put it really well after she went into an empty home with me. She said that before it was staged, it was hard to imagine the good times and laughter that could happen there. But after it was staged, you could imagine those good times.”
The average home seller in Columbus spends about $5,000 in home-preparation costs before the sale, including carpet cleaning, painting, house-cleaning, full-service lawn care, staging and local moving.
A seller, especially a first-timer, might be able to get by for less depending on the condition and size of the home — and how much work he or she does.
“There are some things I always recommend, inexpensive things,” Jedlinsky said.
When it comes to selling a house, clutter is just as bad as being empty, she said.
“And painting neutral colors doesn’t cost much. Decluttering, neutralizing, white towels, white bedspreads can make things look clean and neutral.”